Dear Friends in Christ,
There is always so much going on that there never seems to be a perfect time to catch you up on everything in the parish; that being the case, here is a brief update…
St. John Vianney parish continues to move in the right direction overall. Many things are back to normal, and a few things are even better now than before Covid. Unfortunately, not everything is back to normal, but we are working on them.
Air Conditioning. Last January, one of the chillers for the church failed. We ordered a new one. What would have normally taken a few weeks from fabrication to installation has taken months due to supply chain issues. The original estimate for delivery was June or July, then it was pushed back to sometime in August. We anticipate delivery this month. In the meantime, we have taken emergency precautionary actions and they have sufficed so far. Mass Attendance. In January 2020 we were approaching attendance that matched our pre-Hurricane Harvey numbers in 2017 – then Covid hit. We were shut down 100%. In June 2020 we resumed Masses and activities. Since then, it has been up and down with several plateaus however, we have yet to return to our January 2020 attendance level. Before this summer and vacations, we were about 20% below our pre-covid attendance. Sunday Collections. Last year, we saw a recovery in our collections for Fiscal Year 21-22 despite a 20% decrease in Mass attendance and a 25% decrease in contributors. This fiscal year, we are 25% behind from where we were year-to-date last year. This may be due to high inflation and a possible recession. DSF lags behind last year in funds collected and in the number of donors. Expenses. Though we remain very guarded in how we spend our dollars, churches are not exempt from inflation and high prices. Our expenses, like everyone’s, are rising.
Youth Formation. Our numbers last year showed a healthy recovery in the number of youth receiving religious formation in the parish but our enrollment remains below where it should be. The good news is class attendance figures have been good despite many challenges. The number of parish youth receiving First Communion and Confirmation are well below pre-Covid levels. A major issue and concern that remains the number of parish children in Catholic Schools and Youth Formation who do not attend Sunday Mass regularly. Too many children will attend a school Mass at their Catholic School or come to Youth Formation and then NOT attend Sunday Mass. This is not right. Failure to attend Sunday Mass deprives the children and the families of the spiritual graces and blessings that God and the Church desire for them. Adult Formation. Our parish continues to excel in the quantity and quality of opportunities for the faith formation of adults. We continue to have many offerings that are well attended. While some people dropped out during the pandemic, many new faces have come. There is always room for growth, and we eagerly look for new opportunities to better serve our parishioners and increase participation. Converts. We are continually blessed with men and women seeking to become Catholic. SJV continues to have one of the largest number of new Catholics in the archdiocese. Please continue to pray for many more people to embrace the Catholic faith and join us in living and proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ.
Social Services Ministries. Social Services Ministries was the last department to fully return after Covid. This was out of concern for the health of our parishioner volunteers. They are now up and running and doing tremendous work. In the last year demand for assistance greatly increased as lower income individuals and families have been the most impacted by rising costs due to inflation. In addition to our regular assistance to them during the pandemic our parish has increased its support of needy parishes in the archdiocese by more than 50%. Escalating costs and other economic challenges severely impacted these parishes in their ability to serve their parishioners and those needing assistance in their area. We have increased both the amount of financial aid and the number of parishes to whom we contribute.
Trees. That’s right Trees! As part of our regular facilities and campus maintenance, we recently had an arborist perform a tree inventory. Did you know our campus has more than 600 trees! It was recommended that we apply for designation as a recognized arboretum. If granted, we would be the first religious institution in Houston so recognized. We continue to lose trees from disease and drought, and we lost nearly 60 trees from the great artic freeze of 2021. We are planning another “Tree Drive” to provide for replacement and replanting in the near future. As our area becomes more urbanized, the trees on our beautiful campus become a greater gift to our parish and our neighbors.
We will publish our Annual Pastoral Report on the state of the parish in the Fall; it will provide a more detailed picture. Continue to pray for our parish and thank the Lord for all of our blessings!
In Pace Christi,